Going on holiday in a new and far away country, is always exciting and packed with lots of questions on your mind: what’s the climate going to be like? What kind of food will I find? What’s the sanitary situation in that particular country? Must I wear specific clothes because of the religion? Do I have internet access? Where can I draw money and how best to make payments?
There are a lot of things going on before you can actually sit back in the plane and relax. But let us give you a quick helping hand when it comes to packing your suitcase and what’s most important to bring with. Then you can at least tick that topic off your list!
The good news first: When you come to visit Cape Town or any other major city in South Africa, you can relax. You will find (almost) anything that you are used to in your home country and you can easily buy it from one of the stores in town or directly at the airport. So even if you forget something from your list, it’s not a train smash. Because you will most likely find it here as well. So the following list is more of a recommendation, but the world certainly won’t end in case you forget anything. Happy packing!
Sunscreen: You are travelling to the land of sunshine, so you will definitely need quite a lot of sunscreen. The sun is quite strong and when you’re planning on doing long hikes or extensive days at the beach, you better protect your body with all your life. Avoid nasty sunburns that will sabotage your holiday and make you feel uncomfortable. We recommend to start at least with a SPF 20, for children you definitely want to get SPF 50.
Sunglasses: Needless to say that you will also need to pack your sunglasses. On hikes, boat cruises or on the beach it’s just so much more convenient to cover your eyes from the glaring sun and enjoying your activity with some UVA protection.
Comfortable Clothes & Hat: Unlike in other African countries, there is no specific dress code in South Africa. Women and men can basically wear whatever they want and you don’t need to cover certain body parts in public. Just pack a little bit of everything – some comfortable and loose clothes, swimwear, sweaters or light jackets for the morning and evenings. Hats or caps are also a good idea to protect your head from the sun.
Separate Wallet: No matter where you travel in the world, it makes sense to bring along a separate wallet which can stay at your hotel or apartment. I always take a light wallet out during the way with a little bit of cash and maybe one credit card. The rest of the cash stays at home. This way, you can make sure that it’s not a train smash in case you loose the wallet or it might be stolen from you. You still have your main travel money safely stored in your holiday location.
Adaptors: South Africa has a very unique plug-in system and your normal appliances won’t be compatible. So make sure you bring along a few adopters in order to make your blowdryer work or to charge your electric tooth brush. Most places do have some European adopters available in the rooms, but rather safe than sorry.
Malaria prophylaxis: This is only important when you travel to a high risk malaria area. In Cape Town, you won’t need any malaria tablets. In Kruger Nationalpark it might be advisable at certain times during the year. So it’s probably best to consult your doctor in advance and get the right malaria prophylaxis for you and the family.
Credit Card: As a tourist, you want to be able to draw money no matter where you are. This is best guaranteed with a valid credit card. You can easily draw money from ATMs around the country and don’t have to exchange cash in rare currency exchange bureaus. Also, many car rental agencies only accept credit cards for hiring a car. If you’re unable to present one, you run the risk of not getting your rental car.
Copy of all your travel documents: Just to be on the safe side: make copies of your flight tickets, your ID documents and credit cards. You’ll never know if you might end up loosing your bag and then you don’t want to be in a foreign country without any official documentation.
Sanitary Items: South Africa in general is very clean and has no sanitary issues. Let’s put it that way: you can drink tab water without getting diarrheas the next day, but you might not find toilet paper everywhere or functional basins. So bring along some hand sanitiser and wet wipes just to be on the safe side.
Closed Shoes: A lot of activities require you to have closed shoes. Whether you go on a hike, climb up Table Mountain, or do a game drive. Closed shoes are a Must-Have in quite a few places, so better make sure to pack them in your suitcase.